Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Languages & Literature

First Advisor

Ron Stottlemyer

Second Advisor

Kay Satre

Third Advisor

Jeanette Fregulia

Abstract

Tales from a Windy Prairie is a collection of one novella and three short stories set in Cut Bank, Montana, in the late 1920’s and 1930’s. The novella, “Marianne’s Year,” studies the affect a small town’s collective culture has on the individual. It is also written in the style of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s stories and novels that center on an undeveloped female character who nevertheless is able to make all young men fall in love with her. “Marianne’s Year” objects to this Fitzgeraldian anti-heroine by developing this female character while exposing the presumptions and unfair expectations of her suitors. The three short stories are also studies of the small town but approach the topic from a different viewpoint. In the 1930’s, the discovery of oil made Cut Bank a veritable boom town, and in these stories I attempt to recreate and understand the life of its citizens. “Lunch Rush” focuses on a single woman who is struggling financially before the oil boom. “Balance Sheet” studies a young man who comes to town hoping to make his fortune in the oilfield. Finally, “Clutch” looks at a young woman in a difficult marriage who, because of cultural expectations, refuses to divorce her husband. Together, these four stories represent my attempt to understand the history and culture of my hometown better and to strengthen my storytelling skill. In the end, I hope a reader will find these stories entertaining and coherent and the collection a unified study of history and small-town life.

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